NFL MVP 2012: Where Each Candidate Stands Following Week 17

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistDecember 30, 2012

Dec 30, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) rushes against the Green Bay Packers in the second quarter at the Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Candidates for the NFL's Most Valuable Trophy award had one last chance to prove themselves on Sunday in the regular-season finale.

Adrian Peterson, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are the likely frontrunners for the NFL's highest individual honor, although someone like J.J. Watt could have earned consideration in the eyes of some people.

Some will always opt for a quarterback to win this honor, but Peterson has more than made a case for himself this season. 

It's going to be interesting to see how things shake out, but here are where the candidates stand after Week 17.


Adrian Peterson

Peterson has consistently wowed NFL fans this season, and he finished the year on a high note on Sunday.

Coming into Sunday's game, Peterson had 1,898 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also had over 200 receiving yards on top of that. He produced at an incredible pace, especially when you consider the circumstances that surrounded his knee entering the season.

Not only has Peterson run with his trademark north-south style, but he's broken several big plays this season.

The Vikings offense didn't give him a lot of help most of the time, but he was able to carry the workload anyway. Without his presence, Minnesota wouldn't have come close to making a bid for the playoffs.

This is normally a quarterback's award, but Peterson took the cake this season. He added an exclamation point with his 199-yard, one-touchdown performance on Sunday.

Even though he finished nine yards short of Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record, Peterson still gave football fans a year to remember.


Peyton Manning

Manning delivered another huge performance on Sunday and clinched the No. 1 seed in the AFC for his team in the process.

If it weren't for Peterson's special season, Manning would win in a landslide. He threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, adding to the huge totals that he carried into Sunday's game.

Manning carried an injury of his own into this season, but he also had more talent around him than Peterson did. Either way though, the iconic quarterback sliced through defenses like he'd never missed a snap.

Denver's status as the No. 1 seed will make Manning look even better in the eyes of voters, as it should, but he still trails Peterson by a little bit overall.


Tom Brady

Brady didn't deliver a huge game on Sunday, but that doesn't take away from his excellent season.

Entering Sunday's game, Brady had 4,543 yards and 32 touchdowns. He did turn the ball over 10 times overall, but part of that is also due to some inconsistent play from his offensive line.

If Brady had put up massive numbers versus the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, he could have leapfrogged Manning in the MVP race, but he didn't. It's not that 284 yards and two touchdowns are bad, but Manning was better.

A win is still important, but Denver's win also cancelled that out.

Brady's name has become a mainstay in this race, and he had another impressive season this time around. It shouldn't be quite enough to earn him the the title as this year's most valuable player, but he's still one of the more important players in the league.

His name alone could cause him to finish higher than he should, but he belongs behind Peterson and Manning at this point.